Mobiles banned from FIFA voting booths to ensure secrecy

Five candidates are gunning to replace outgoing president Sepp Blatter who has been banned for eight years

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Mobile phones and cameras will be banned from polling booths at next week’s FIFA presidential election to ensure each vote remains secret, one of the candidates said on Wednesday.

Frenchman Jerome Champagne said he raised the issue with the electoral committee because he was concerned some voters had come under pressure to photograph their ballot papers to prove they had taken part.

FIFA’s 209 member national associations (FAs) each hold one vote. Five candidates are standing to replace outgoing president Sepp Blatter, banned for eight years amid a widening graft scandal that has shaken world soccer’s ruling body.

The six continental confederations do not vote but four of them have nominated their preferred candidates.

Champagne said he wrote to Domenico Scala, head of the electoral committee, on Monday to say that “FIFA member associations and their leaders are under intense pressure to determine their vote on Feb. 26.

“Past experience, as well as the information currently circulating, is showing that in order to assure compliance with directives, voting members are being required to take pictures of their voting form with a mobile phone,” he added.

In the reply seen by Reuters, Scala said all delegates would be reminded “the use of mobile phones, cameras or other electronic equipment suited to record the voting process are not permitted in the voting booths”.

It added that “ballot papers will only be handed out to delegates once they are in the voting booths”.

Champagne told Reuters he was “satisfied with the answer by the electoral committee. It is a concern, it is important I know and I’m sure I’m not the only candidate who has raised this issue”.

European soccer’s governing body UEFA and South American counterpart CONMEBOL have backed Gianni Infantino as president while Asia’s AFC and Africa’s CAF have put their weight behind Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa.

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